A recent report revealed that more than half of Americans suffer from feelings of loneliness.
Do you fall into this category? If so, there are a host of reasons why you may feel alone.
Perhaps you’re longing to be in a romantic relationship. Or maybe you just moved to a new city and you’re still searching for your circle of friends.
Regardless, if you’re single and lonely, there’s a way to work through those feelings.
Today, I’m sharing five ways to cope with isolation and the heartache it can bring.
Ready to learn more? Let’s dive in.
1. Embrace (Don’t Shy Away From) Social Interaction
Do you pine for the days when you had a serious relationship in your life? In addition to missing the love and affection it provided, you could also be looking for the social fulfillment it gave you.
When you’re one half of a couple, you have a built-in companion. As such, finding yourself suddenly single and alone can be jarring.
This is why I encourage people whose relationships have recently ended to get back out there.
No, you don’t have to go out and meet a new love interest right away. In fact, in most cases, that’s an unhealthy knee-jerk response. Instead, seek authentic, meaningful connections, even if they’re only five minutes long.
Ask the barista how her day’s going. Tell your co-worker about a new project you’re working on. Go out for coffee with your roommate rather than immediately retreating to your separate rooms at the end of the day.
In short, seek real, human interactions that nurture the side of you that craves social synergy. It’s not a substitute for a relationship, but it can skyrocket your self-confidence in a way few things can.
2. Eschew Small Talk for Sincerity
While you’re in the middle of fighting loneliness, it’s easy to revert to simply having fun. After all, when you’ve been swallowed whole by seclusion, you’ll do anything to get your mind off it.
So, it’s tempting to go to the nightclub with a bevvy of others just to feel free. Or, you may try to find a few shallow relationships that you culminate together to help fill that one aching gap.
While there’s nothing wrong with having fun, be wary of the fact that these meaningless connections will do little to curb your feelings of solitude.
One way to take a step in the right direction? Find a worthwhile cause that pulls at your heartstrings and pursue it. This might mean volunteering at a house of worship, helping out at a homeless shelter, mentoring local youth, or working part-time for a non-profit.
When you channel your energy into helping others, you’ll meet like-minded peers whose interests and ambitions are aligned with yours, and that’s an excellent foundation for friendship.
3. Push Your Learning Limits
It can be difficult to meet new people when we’re stuck in our home-work-home rut. That said, it can be helpful to shake up your daily routine a little.
Learn a new skill, take up a sport you’ve always loved watching, or join a nearby hobby group such as the book club at your community library.
Look for activities that encourage you to be around others and cannot be performed solo.
That might mean instead of just going to the gym and lifting weights alone, you join a step aerobics class instead. Rather than downloading a meditation app and practicing namaste in your living room, find a class that’s meeting downtown.
As you do so, you’ll slowly break down your barriers and find your niche. Don’t be discouraged if the first group you join isn’t an ideal fit. Keep pursuing your interests until you find one that feels right.
4. Assume the Best
Low self-confidence and self-deprecation often go hand-in-hand. If you’re feeling lonely, you might feel as though you’re wearing a giant badge on your chest displaying your isolation for the world to see.
From there, you spin around any comment and make it negative. You take praise and turn it into criticism and churn compliments into sarcasm.
You also become adept at filtering everything through grey-colored glasses, remembering only the negative comments and forgetting the positive ones.
To combat this cycle, try to readjust your mindset. Start each day with a spirit of gratitude and positivity, and aim to stick with it, even as the day ebbs and flows. Try to identify negative thoughts when they enter your mind and immediately replace them with optimistic ones.
It might take a while at first, but soon this mindset will become second nature. When it does, you’ll be able to grow your confidence and pursue meaningful connections.
5. Reach Out to a Professional
A recent survey by the American Psychological Association revealed that almost 60 million people have received treatment for mental health care in the past two years. Of this number, 80% found the support to be effective.
The takeaway? You’re not alone and you’re not weak for seeking help.
Your feelings of loneliness could be symptoms of a more serious medical concern, such as clinical depression. It’s important (and helpful) to speak to a mental health professional as soon as possible.
This expert can walk you through your emotions, listen to your concerns, and share proactive ways to help cope with the feelings. Today, there’s less of a stigma around seeing a psychiatrist or therapist than ever before, so embrace this time to open up.
You Don’t Have to Be Single and Lonely Forever
When you’re right in the middle of a difficult season of life, it can feel as though things will go on this way forever.
The good news is that being single and lonely is a hard road to walk, but it isn’t a never-ending journey.
It also isn’t a one-lane road.
If you’re in the Charlotte, NC area and are seeking the advice and support of a local therapist, contact Modern Era Counseling today.
There are people waiting to help you find purpose, meaning, and fulfillment again, one connection at a time. Seeking help is the first step, so let’s take the next one together.